ICYMI: U.S. Rep. Brian Mast Voted to Gut Our Consumer Protections Against Wall Street Banks and Predatory Lenders

June 12, 2017

FOR FLORIDA’S FUTURE: “The 2008 financial crisis cost Florida 825k jobs. Congressman Mast just voted to bring on the next one.”

Quid Pro Quo: Congressman Mast Pays Back Wall Street Special Interests That Invested $242,000 In His Campaign

[Port St. Lucie, FL] – In a big win for Wall Street at the expense of Main Street, Thursday the Republican-led U.S. House passed the so-called “Financial CHOICE Act” with the help of U.S. Rep. Brian Mast (FL-18) that lets big banks and predatory lenders go back to the same risky behavior and abusive practices that caused the devastating financial crisis of 2008. Progressive-advocacy group For Florida’s Future condemns the bill written by-and-for financial industry that would roll back the reforms and protections put in place for American consumers after the Wall Street meltdown that cost $9 trillion in household wealth, as many as 10 million families their homes to foreclosure, and nearly 8 million people their jobs, including 825,000 in Florida.

Among the many giveaways to Wall Street jammed into the more-appropriately titled “Wall Street’s CHOICE Act” are measures to severely weaken the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The CFPB was created under the ‘Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act’ nearly six years ago and has worked exceptionally well despite relentless attacks from the financial industry and those in their pocket in Congress. The agency has successfully recovered nearly $12 billion for 29 million American consumers who were scammed by the illegal or illegitimate practices of the financial industry. The CFPB has also worked wonders to keep mortgage lenders from making unaffordable loans, help save homes from unnecessary foreclosure, and rein in abusive payday loans that push millions of Americans – including our men and women in uniform – into the debt trap.

Blake Williams, Communications Director, For Florida’s Future: “Make no mistake: the Wall Street bailout masked as ‘reform’ that Congressman Mast backed would usher in a wave of the same casino-like behavior in the financial sector that led to the Great Recession.  It’s an open invitation for big banks to party with other people’s’ money like it’s 2008 all over again. Why would anyone want to repeat that history? Congressman Mast made the wrong ‘choice’ on behalf of the many Florida families who lost their home or job thanks to Wall Street’s reckless behavior during the Bush era.  At the behest of his special interest donors, Mast voted to cripple the CFPB’s ability to stop unfair, deceptive, and abusive practices by the big banks — and to take away the tools the agency needs to enforce against payday and car title lenders that charge criminally-high interest rates. Either Congressman Mast has a lot of blind faith in Wall Street’s willingness to self-regulate, or the $242,000 he’s taken from them was enough to turn a blind eye to the tricks and traps that big banks and unscrupulous payday lenders are eager to reinstate. My money’s on the latter. It is critical for the economy that the Senate promptly place this bill in the trash bin where it belongs.”

BACKGROUND: According to the Americans for Financial Reform, the Wall Street’s CHOICE Act would:

  • Create unprecedented barriers to regulatory action that would effectively give large financial institutions power to overturn or avoid government oversight.
  • Strip the powers of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to stop unfair, deceptive, and abusive practices in consumer markets or to regularly examine banks and financial companies to determine whether they are breaking the law, returning to the regulatory patchwork that failed before the crisis and the CFPB was created to solve.
  • Eliminate critical elements of regulatory reforms passed since the crisis, including restrictions on unaffordable mortgage lending, the Volcker Rule ban on banks engaging in hedge-fund like speculation, restrictions on excessive Wall Street bonuses, and more.
  • Increase the ability of “too big to fail” financial institutions to hold up taxpayers for a bailout by threatening economic disaster if they failed.
  • Weaken investor protection and oversight of the capital markets, including repealing crucial new fiduciary protections that save tens of billions a year for retirement investors.

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